Gibson recently announced its Marquee Artist programme as a new sub-sector of the brand, designed to assist emerging artists with career growth. Their flagship signing is Texas-based songwriter Abraham Alexander, whose debut album SEA/SONS has just been released.
What’s changed for you since becoming Gibson’s first Marquee Artist?
“It’s the support more than anything. I like to say that the second person who believes in a dream is more important than the dreamer themselves because they validate that dream and they validate the aspiration. It’s a crazy thought that the individual who builds the guitar that I’m able to express myself with also believes in me. There’s this circle dynamic being built and it just adds more fuel to the fire.”
Tell us about your go-to guitar for writing songs…
“Right now, it’s the Epiphone Dove. I wrote my entire album on the Epiphone. There’s something about the way it looks which also plays into how you carry it and the sound of it. To me, it’s so easy. It’s so striking when you look at it, but at the same time, it gives me the character I need and the energy when I’m writing.”
You also play an Epiphone ES-339. What is it about Epiphone models that wins over their Gibson equivalents?
“It’s funny because Gibson and Epiphone – for me – are one and the same. But, I feel like there is a richness within the Epiphone. I’ve seen a lot of songwriters really make that part of their arsenal. It’s the fact that you can get it and not be afraid to take it on the road or be afraid that something’s going to happen.
“It builds character and it builds this energy. For me, that’s everything. I’ve got a Gibson ES-335 Larry Carlton as well. That’s one of my favourite guitars. Gary Clark Jr., who’s also on my album, was the first one to play that guitar, so there’s a lot of history there.”
What other gear couldn’t you live without?
“A tuner! I also have this pedal called the Steel String Supreme and it’s a Dumble sort of turned into a pedal. I feel like it takes my tone just a little bit over the edge. I add it on the acoustic as well and it gives this real shine.”
Your songs are incredibly personal. Has getting up on stage and bearing your soul to strangers ever been challenging?
“At first. Over time, it has become a lot easier. Ultimately, being vulnerable is strength. The more that you’re vulnerable, the less the pain and those insecurities have a hold over you. Every time I’m able to perform these songs that are so personal, I’m chipping away at the armour of who I am – the pride and the defensive wall that I’m carrying to try to protect myself from something that I’m feeling.”
People often say it’s easier to perform with a guitar than without one. Is that the case for you?
“Absolutely! You’re bearing so much of yourself out, and holding something in your hands is like getting a hug. It’s surreal, but it is a shield. It’s a shield and it’s a weapon all at once!”
- SEA/SONS is out now via Dualtone Music Group.